Inside The Bills

Fan Friday 12-8

Posted by Chris Brown on December 8, 2017 – 12:13 pm

It’s a gotta-have-it game on Sunday. Here are your questions on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills and email at

1 – @ChrisBrownBills

Is there any indication that Dennison Is on the hot seat?

Del Smith

CB: I don’t get that sense right now. The performance and production of the offense will be reviewed and evaluated at the end of the season by head coach Sean McDermott. As I see it the key in the evaluation of the offense was whether it was held back by the play at quarterback or by the play calling of the coordinator. It could very well be a combination of both.

There are other factors as well. The constant churn at wide receiver due to in season additions and injuries. The offensive line having a hard time changing to a completely different blocking scheme from the one they had a lot of success in a year ago.

The future direction of the offense will hinge on where McDermott felt they came up short and why and what parties were most responsible for those shortcomings.


2 – @ChrisBrownBills

Do you think Bills will make playoffs? Yes or No?

Charles Barber

CB: The AFC playoff picture is too convoluted to give a yes or no answer. With four games to play, the Wild Card spots are a jumble at best. Three different teams could still win the AFC West. The Bills obviously want the Chargers to win the West, so they don’t have to worry about the head-to-head tiebreaker with that team, knowing they have head-to-head edges over Oakland and Kansas City in a Wild Card tiebreaker scenario.

I did see that Football Outsiders in the playoff simulations had the Bills with a 43 percent chance of making the playoffs if they finish 9-7 with their only loss coming at New England. If they finish 8-8 they reach the playoffs in less than one percent of their simulations.

I think that pretty much paints the picture right now. It’ll be an uphill battle, which is usually the case when you need help from other teams.


3 –  @ChrisBrownBills

With the addition of Benjamin will the Bills start throwing the ball more? That would help open McCoy

Why am I

CB: I think assuming the Bills will throw more with Benjamin in the lineup is a bit of an oversimplification. This is a team that remains rooted in a run-first philosophy and understandably so. With Benjamin on the field there will be more opportunities for the Bills to make plays in the pass game because he’s capable of making a play even when he’s covered due to his length alone.

But his insertion into the lineup won’t dramatically change the run-pass tendencies. It just gives them a more reliable option. That could increase pass attempts to a degree, but I don’t see a sharp increase overall.


4 – @ChrisBrownBills

Any news on why Henderson isn’t playing? He has to be better than mills

Hayden Ricci

CB: Well as for right now, Henderson had a setback this week with a back injury and may not even be available. When he was active and in the lineup as a sixth lineman or tackle eligible the last couple of weeks head coach Sean McDermott had this to say about Henderson.

“I think he’s done a good job,” said McDermott. “He’s obviously a big body that has some power and length to him. So he protects the quarterback well and can fire off the ball and move the line of scrimmage. He’s done a good job for us so far.”

I think Henderson’s five-game suspension really set him back in terms of consideration in unseating any starting tackle. He served as the swing tackle the last few weeks, but now with this back injury he’s got another setback to get through.

He’ll be an interesting decision for this coaching staff in the offseason. He’s set to become an unrestricted free agent. He has uncommon athleticism for the position and great length and strength, but his opportunities have been limited.

I know one team that would scoop him up immediately in free agency and that’s Jacksonville. Henderson was a pick Marrone got to make at the end of the draft by former GM Doug Whaley back in 2014.


5 – @ChrisBrownBills

With Charles Clay’s knee issues and contract size will the bills move on due to “availability issues”? And when would the best time to do so be?

Schmian Schmampbell

CB: For an offense that doesn’t exactly have a bounty of consistent playmaking weapons it’d be hard to part with Charles Clay going forward. His cap figure actually holds steady for the remainder of his contract. It was $9M this year and will be the same next year and the year after that. Knowing the cap itself will likely go up $10-12M each of the next two years, his hit in terms of percentage of Buffalo’s cap is lessened each year.

While the new front office has made it clear they’re not shy about cutting what they feel are not good values on their roster, it’d be hard to say that about Clay, who even now despite missing three games, still leads the team in receiving yards. If your top tight end is still producing better than any receiver on your roster in a year where your pass game is struggling I think it only emphasizes his value all the more to your offense. That’s a reason to keep him as I see it.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 11-24

Posted by Chris Brown on November 24, 2017 – 1:40 pm

Getting close to do or die time for the Bills. Here are your questions on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills and email at

1 – @ChrisBrownBills

Why haven’t they played Henderson all season. It’s pretty clear that our OL needs change.

Tim Stefani

CB: I’m guessing that since you mentioned Henderson, you’re referencing the offensive tackle position primarily. Here is what I believe to be the main issues that are keeping Henderson from getting onto the field for games.

After playing in the preseason he served a five-game suspension, which put him behind in all aspects of the offense’s development in terms of on field instruction. Only now is he getting back into the swing of things. He’s appeared in each of the last two games, primarily on special teams plays. And he started last week’s game as a tackle eligible when the Bills came out in the jumbo package.

I don’t think anyone can debate that Jordan Mills had a tough day against Joey Bosa, but Bosa has made a lot of offensive tackles look bad this season. If it was just a case of being overmatched, the coaches can find solutions to give him more help with a tight end or a back.

I believe the offensive staff is monitoring how things are going on the edges and the interior very closely every week. If subpar play lasts more than a week or two, coach McDermott has shown a willingness to make a change if he believes it will lead to better results.

Whether Henderson is ever part of that change is difficult to say, but he’ll be the swing tackle on Sunday.


2 – @ChrisBrownBills
Is Rick Dennison on the hot seat? The offense has been anemic and I do not think it is for lack of personal.

Josh Stoeckl

CB: I don’t get the sense that’s the case. If anything the decision that coach McDermott made for the Chargers game provided indication that it’s the play on the field that is compromising the effectiveness and production of the offense.

I suppose after further review at the end of the season that viewpoint could change, but as now I don’t feel that is what is afoot. I know the availability of fired Denver coordinator Mike McCoy has prompted this line of thinking. I just don’t think that kind of thing is even on a head coach’s radar this time of year.


3 – @ChrisBrownBills
Do you think our lack of speed at LB is key reason for our poor run defense? Should we bring in someone similar to Brandon Spikes in 2014?

Sean joyce

CB: If speed is what you’re looking for, a Brandon Spikes type is not the answer. Spikes coming out of college ran a five-flat 40 time and was strictly a run-down player. Buffalo’s linebacking corps does absolutely need more speed in this style of defense. It’s part of what worries me about this week’s game knowing the speed that the Chiefs can put on the field offensively.

That is going to have to wait until the offseason when the personnel department finds more players tailor made for this defense based on their physical skill set.


4 – @ChrisBrownBills
Do you get a sense that the players still believe in coach McDermott “process” or is there division in the locker room?


CB: It’s pretty clear to me talking to players in the locker room that there remains a healthy amount of respect for coach McDermott.

McDermott did what he genuinely felt was best for the team in starting Peterman. He felt the rookie QB was ready to help the offense function with more consistency. It didn’t work.

The worst part is it cost them a game. Will it be the difference in reaching the playoffs? Too early to know that with six games to play.

What’s important here is McDermott proved he doesn’t have ulterior motives in going back to Taylor this week. He was up front about the Peterman decision being a calculated risk. If it worked who would benefit?

The team.

If it didn’t work who would it hurt most?

The head coach.

You have a head coach here who is not afraid to make uncomfortable decisions even at the risk of damaging his own credibility, if it could mean better for the team he coaches. It might be hard for some players to grasp that right now, but in time they’ll likely see what McDermott’s true motives were.


5 – @ChrisBrownBills
The Bills got two first rounders. I think they need to address the defense with those. What do you think?

Peter O’Brien

CB: First, I think it’s premature to talk draft. I don’t disagree that the Bills need help on defense, particularly at defensive tackle and linebacker, but to arbitrarily decide you’re going to use both first-round picks on defense is a little foolhardy. In addition to deciding what the best value is wherever they draft in round one, Buffalo also has to assess what is still on the board when they’re on the clock.

There’s no way to just say we’re going defense with both picks.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

The reason Dawkins subbed at guard, not Groy

Posted by Chris Brown on October 25, 2017 – 8:59 am

When Richie Incognito had to step out of Sunday’s game after getting his ankle rolled when he got cut by a Bucs defender, there looked like there was a decision to be made as both Ryan Groy and Dion Dawkins looked to the offensive staff to see who would sub in for the Pro Bowl guard. Eventually it was Dawkins, who would go in to play most of the rest of the series for Incognito. But that decision was more a matter of rule following than preference.

Offensive coordinator Rick Dennison knew that Groy was not even an option as a substitute at guard because of where Groy was lined up on the previous play.

“Richie went out, and Ryan’s [Groy] our substitute, but he was an eligible receiver the play before, so he cannot be an ineligible [player] (on the next play),” said Dennison.

Dennison is 100 percent correct. In the NFL rule book under Section 3, Article 2 – Returning to original position, it states the following.


A player who has reported a change in his eligibility status to the Referee is permitted to return to a position indicated by the eligibility status of his number after:

  1. a team time out;
  2. the end of a quarter;
  3. the two-minute warning;
  4. a foul;
  5. a replay challenge;
  6. a touchdown;
  7. a completed kick from scrimmage;
  8. a change of possession; or
  9. if the player has been withdrawn for one legal snap. A player withdrawn for one legal snap may re-enter at a position indicated by the eligibility status of his number, unless he again reports to the Referee that he is assuming a position other than that designated by the eligibility status of his number.

Since none of the above had occurred, Groy was not an option to play guard after lining up as an eligible receiver on the previous play. Fortunately, Dawkins handled the impromptu assignment just fine.

“Dion’s experience and his talent allows him to play different places,” Dennison said. “That’s great for us, the more versatility you have, that’s what we ask our wideouts to do, that’s what we ask our tight ends to do, and certainly that’s the same thing as a lineman. If he understands the scheme, we can put him in there. He was very successful, obviously, that was a big play for us.”

Now after the first play that Dawkins went in at left guard, Groy could’ve gone in at left guard at that point, but the offensive staff elected to leave it alone for the rest of the series until Incognito returned.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 9-22

Posted by Chris Brown on September 22, 2017 – 12:45 pm

A big AFC challenge this week with Denver. Let’s get to your questions on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills and email at

1 – @ChrisBrownBills

How are Zay and Tyrod connecting this week?

Beth fox@10Poobah

CB: They are connecting in practice all the time. What you see in practice however, is somewhat scripted by the scout team. What Zay Jones as a rookie receiver will see on Sunday will be much different and it will be happening much faster.

Jones needs time on the job to getting in better sync with Tyrod on game days. I believe it will happen in time. How much time is the question.


2 – @ChrisBrownBills

The Bills started moving the ball in the 2nd half when they spread it out. Do you think they have the personal to go 4 and 5 wide?

Michael Kielma

CB: I think spreading the field is a good idea to prevent eight-man boxes for Buffalo’s run game. If you go four wide with a single back in the backfield, the space and lanes are there because the defense has to cover all the options.

Chan Gailey made Buffalo’s offense productive that way, including C.J. Spiller, who had his most productive season in an offense that went predominantly with a four-wide, one back look.

When you’re facing cornerbacks the caliber of Chris Harris and Aqib Talib, rub routes can also be a solution. So having more receivers split out can facilitate that.

But I like the idea of a spread look to help the Bills move the ball more consistently. I especially like the spread look in the red zone to give Tyrod Taylor the necessary lanes to take off and run and reach the end zone if he has to tuck and take off.


3 – Hey Chris,

Ever since Charles Clay has been with the Bills there has always been talk of him having knee problems . Every year, including this one, as I was just reading how he is limited in practice due to knee soreness . Every year I wonder making the kind of cash this guy makes why doesn’t he get his knee fixed in the off season? What is the deal with his knee & again why doesn’t he do something about it especially seeing as he is one of the higher paid players on the team …

Thanks for all you do
Mr. T from Fort Myers via Nashville
CB: I’m not a doctor so I’m not going to pretend to know what Clay’s exact knee affliction is. But you have to believe that if surgery of any kind could correct the condition of his knee it would’ve happened a long time ago.

His playing career is his livelihood, so if something could be done to reduce the need to take preventative measures with his knee, like staying off it an extra day every week, they would’ve taken those steps.


4 – @ChrisBrownBills

Will Rick Dennison ‘Rex Ryan’ our offense? Or will he start looking at what made us more successful last year and change strategies?

Ryan Appleby

CB: I highly doubt that Buffalo’s offensive coordinator after an entire offseason of work is going to scrap the system he spent the last six months installing. It’s on the players to lock things down and execute more effectively.

The coaches have to get creative with the chess pieces they have and coach McDermott talked about moving some of the pieces around to be more unpredictable. But scrapping your offensive system after two games is not going to happen.

It’s the constant churn of coaches and front office people that’s responsible for the growing pains you’re witnessing now. I’m not going to run through the litany of coaching changes and front office changes since 2000.

All that change makes it difficult for a team to develop familiarity with schemes, have the personnel that perfectly fit the schemes and the consistency to execute the schemes.

The good news is the Pegulas look like they’ve hired the right head coach and the right general manager. So the hope is the vision that Brandon Beane and Sean McDermott have can gain traction and establish a foothold that can set a good foundation.

Then the team can continue to be built in that image with less and less player turnover from year to year. That should lead to a better product on the field.


5 – @ChrisBrownBills

How do you feel about Tyrod Taylor start to the season?

Shane Boucher

CB: I’ve expected much of what we’ve seen to this point. It’s an offense that is not yet on the same page, for a host of reasons. Two regular season games together, late offseason changes (Jordan Matthews trade, Anquan Boldin add and subtraction, Watkins trade, Streater injury), lost time on the field (Jordan Matthews injury, Tyrod Taylor injury).

Change, especially in the late stages of a preseason, never help the continuity an offense is trying to establish in year one of a new system.

Even the offensive line, which returns the same starting five (when Cordy Glenn is healthy), is undergoing a dramatic change in scheme, going to a zone blocking scheme.

I understand fans want a productive offense that scores points, especially after seeing the Bills rank 12th and 10th in points per game the last two years. That’s not going to happen right away in light of the aforementioned circumstances.

That doesn’t mean the players on offense aren’t doing everything they can to tighten things up and execute more effectively.

But just going on past experience with change here in Buffalo, this is going to take at least to the bye week before things start really humming.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Dennison confident in offensive weapons

Posted by Chris Brown on September 19, 2017 – 12:42 pm

They found it hard to make plays against Carolina’s defense last Sunday, but offensive coordinator Rick Dennison is staunch in his belief that the offense has the necessary playmakers to make things happen in the passing game.

The key as Dennison sees it is working the pass game off the other elements of their offense. Then after that it’s turning pass attempts into completions.

“Complete a lot of balls, just keep working at it, keep completing balls,” Dennison said. “I think certainly some of our shots will come off of play action and off the run game, we have to be successful there. Like I said, there’s still plenty of talent and the ability to push the ball around.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Taylor glad Dennison was on the sidelines

Posted by Chris Brown on September 10, 2017 – 7:20 pm

All preseason offensive coordinator Rick Dennison was deciding where his game day location would best serve the offense. Leading up to the opener some of Buffalo’s offensive staff was a bit… well injured, for lack of a better description, and not as mobile to serve on the sidelines. So when coach Dennison asked his players where they’d prefer to have him on Sunday, they told him the sideline.

Tyrod Taylor was particularly happy to have him there.

“It was good. It was a decision whether he was going to be on the field or in the booth. I requested that he be on the field, especially with (RBs) coach (Kelly) Skipper being hurt and not being there. Our assistant QB coach was helping with the running backs, so having that communication on the sideline definitely helped and we were able to talk through some things,” Taylor said. “It would’ve been the same over the phone, but that person-to-person interaction on the sideline talking through things went a long way.”

No word on whether Dennison’s location will change when the coaching staff is back to full health. Quarterbacks coach David Culley was Dennison’s line of communication down on the sideline when he was up in the booth. But Taylor liked having his OC there to talk to when he came off the field.

“It was good to have our coordinator down there just to get everyone on the same page,” Taylor said.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 6-2

Posted by Chris Brown on June 2, 2017 – 11:44 am

Last week of OTAs coming up on Monday with mandatory minicamp to follow. The offseason is winding down. Let’s get to your questions on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills and on email at

1 – @ChrisBrownBills

In OTA’s during the qb drills which backup qb is getting the most time with the 2s and which will get time with the 3s?

Chris soh

CB: I’m not going to pretend that I’ve been counting reps for the quarterbacks behind Tyrod. Here’s what I’ve witnessed thus far. Early in OTAs, T.J. Yates did not get many reps at all. That’s because he’s had multiple seasons in this offense going back to his time with Gary Kubiak and Rick Dennison in Houston.

It was clear early in OTAs that they wanted to get the younger QBs up to speed with the scheme so Nate Peterman and Cardale Jones were rotated through more behind Taylor.

In week two of OTAs, Yates was rotated in as the second QB.

Here’s how team period snaps often went last week.

Taylor – 3 reps
Yates – 3 reps
Jones – 3 reps
Taylor – 3 reps
Peterman – 3 reps
End of team period.

So Taylor would get six snaps, while everyone else got three during each team period. We’ll see if that changes at all this week.


2 – @ChrisBrownBills

How’s Zay’s knee?

Buffalo Bills NL

CB: We have not received an official update beyond him being week to week. That being said I did see him here at One Bills Drive this week in the hall. He was walking normally without any hitch in his gait, which is a good sign. Now that doesn’t mean he’ll be able to practice this coming week, but it is an indication that he’s made good progress since sustaining the sprained knee in the first week of OTAs.


3 – @ChrisBrownBills

What is Clay’s contract situation? How much $ would @buffalobills have to eat if they cut him & target Barnidge?

Cory Fountain

CB: Clay is going to make $4.5M in base salary each of the next three years. The prorated portion of his bonus, which impacts the salary cap, is also $4.5M annually, giving him a total cap figure of $9M each of the next three seasons.
4 – @ChrisBrownBills

Any chance Dennison can get Tyrod to see and use the whole field in passing game, especially the oft-neglected middle of the field?

Matt Dermody

CB: While I don’t debate that using the middle of the field consistently was a deficiency in Tyrod Taylor’s game, I’d encourage you to look at his last two starts from last season. I thought Taylor took a step forward when it came to reading the middle of the field and making plays between the numbers.

Against Cleveland and Miami, even though it was clear that swing passes and screens were part of the game plan designed to get receivers and backs out in space in both games, Taylor still worked the middle of the field.

In the Browns game five of his 17 completions in the game either went to the middle of the field or hit a receiver coming from the middle of the field on a crossing pattern or drag route. His only incompletion to the middle of the field in that game came on a pass under pressure.

Against the Dolphins, Taylor had his first 300-yard passing game. Again swings and screens accounted for a good portion of the completions, but he found Clay, Watkins and Woods for plays that worked the middle of the field, including the 34-yard flea flicker late in the game to Woods.

That’s why I was disappointed to see him not play in the season finale. I wanted to see a third straight game of him using the middle of the field, but he wasn’t given that opportunity.

To answer your question I think he has a chance to see the middle of the field even better this year knowing that Dennison will probably get him out on the move even more than the offensive staff did last year. That will enable him to see the whole field even better than he does from the pocket.

That’s not to say he can’t make plays over the middle from the pocket. His last two starts in 2016 are an indication that he is learning how. But designed rollouts and bootlegs in Dennison’s offense might have him on the edges even more this season.


5 – Hey Chris,

I briefly posed this a few weeks ago.

I am fascinated by the athleticism and potential of Logan Thomas. At 6’6″ and 250, he have great movement skills and good speed. Have you heard anything about his progress in converting to TE, or possibly even WR?  I know information may be extremely limited, but I could see him being a real sleeper for us.

Thanks for your time..
Have an abundantly blessed evening
CB: He has been working at tight end, and while he is still learning the nuances of the position, I agree he has rare athleticism for a player his size. Running full speed he made a one-handed catch in the end zone as he was going out of bounds along the left sideline and got his first foot down and dragged the back toe on the other for a good reception.

Even his teammates were wowed by it.

The good thing is he has a strong teaching coach in tight ends coach Rob Boras. It’s evident to me that the staff wants to try to groom that talent.

Does that mean he can help the Bills this season?

That’s hard to say. He’s still very young at the position, but with the right tutoring and commitment on his part I wouldn’t count him out.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Dominik: Puzzle for Bills starts at QB

Posted by Chris Brown on January 26, 2017 – 10:18 am

Ex-NFL GM Mark Dominik, now an ESPN NFL analyst likes the staff that new Bills head coach Sean McDermott has put together in Buffalo. Now comes the task of crafting and reshaping the roster and the big decision obviously lies at quarterback. As Dominik sees it the situation concerning Tyrod Taylor’s future with Buffalo is a compelling one.

“You’ve got the interesting situation with Tyrod,” said Dominik. “But there’s a big puzzle to be put together on quarterbacks in general, whether it’s some of the veterans that are out there like (Jay) Cutler and (Ryan) Fitzpatrick. And where does Kaepernick fit. So they’ve got their work cut out for them.”

What Dominik feels is working in favor of the new coaching staff is they have day-to-day working familiarity with Taylor, thanks to offensive coordinator Rick Dennison’s season with Taylor in Baltimore in 2014 when he was quarterbacks coach.

“The good thing is Dennison has worked with a lot of different quarterbacks if you look at his track record over the last few years,” said Dominik. “Tyrod Taylor has been with him before. They’ve got to get it right.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

How things worked between Kubiak & Dennison

Posted by Chris Brown on January 23, 2017 – 11:16 pm

There have been widespread reports over the years about the amount of latitude now retired head coach Gary Kubiak had with his play calling delegation to Bills new offensive coordinator Rick Dennison. It’s no secret that Kubiak called plays, but there were several games over the years where Dennison also called plays. Broncos receivers coach Tyke Tolbert, who worked the past two years with both Kubiak and Dennison in the offensive meeting rooms, set the record straight as to how things functioned in an appearance on the John Murphy Show.

“It was a collaboration,” Tolbert said. “Gary Kubiak was an offensive guy through and through. He played the position and coached the position and came up in the west coast system. He knows it like the palm of his hand like Rico (Dennison) does. So it was collaboration with everything. During the week we all had our part, and Gary Kubiak was a big part of that game planning. Coach Kubiak, Rick Dennison and (QBs coach) Greg Knapp had the most input in terms of what we were doing.”

More on Dennison’s handling of the offense in Tuesday’s edition of Bills Today.


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Posted in Inside the Bills